Now that you’ve decided to take the plunge — literally — how do you choose your dive training location? Assuming you’re planning a trip to do so, and not getting certified at home, there are many questions to ask yourself before deciding where to go. Here we’ll offer a few tips to help you figure out the perfect dive training location for you.
Where can I go?
First of all, where can a potential diver go for training? The answer is: everywhere. With five oceans and 113 seas to choose from, we are truly spoiled for choice, so you’ve got to identify your preferences as a new diver. Many students choose the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, Indian Ocean or the southeast Pacific, where wetsuits may even be optional. There are great dives to be had in the temperate waters of Europe and the United States as well; just be sure to wear appropriate exposure suits.
Why are you seeking training?
Perhaps you’re just starting out, readying to experience the underwater world for the first time. Perhaps you’re already a diver, but looking for further training or to become a dive pro. Maybe you’re looking to expand into the realms of technical diving. Identify your reasons and select a location that’s suitable for your current level of dive training, comfort and experience. Your entry-level dive course should be about getting used to the gear and the sensation of being underwater, not challenging yourself with a strong current or poor visibility.
Once you’ve chosen a location, it’s imperative to look for a quality dive center from which to learn, but where to begin? The internet is the natural answer, so when you find a shop that seems to fit your needs, assess its reputability by browsing through customer reviews and star ratings, which are usually found on the dive center’s own website and social media pages. Check sites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia and booking.com as well. Get a good feel for the place and its staff, and contact them directly with any questions you may have. Make sure the center’s instructors are fluent in your language if you’re traveling abroad for training. You can also scan diver forums and social media groups and pose questions to other divers regarding location and dive center recommendations.
What do you want to see?
Is there something specific you want to see underwater? Maybe it’s coral reefs; maybe it’s a particular type of marine life. With muck diving gaining popularity, the many macro dive sites of the Philippines and Indonesia have become a real treat. If you like bigger stuff, consider somewhere like the Maldives or Australia, and even parts of the Caribbean, United States and Mexico. Do your homework, and you’ll stumble across areas where sightings of your chosen critter can almost be guaranteed.
How much will it cost?
Let’s move on to price. Do not — I repeat, do not — be put off by the cost of your training, because you really do get what you pay for with dive education. Don’t go for the cheaper dive center solely because it’s less costly. Choose the one that you believe will give you the best training and experience. Be more concerned with the reputation of your chosen dive center and instructor, because in the long run, it’s far more important than the price tag.
Who is coming along?
One final point to consider is whether or not you’re traveling alone or with friends or family. It’s easier to choose where to go when you only have yourself to worry about, of course, but when you’ve got a partner or other travel companions to worry about, you have to consider their needs as well, especially if they are less experienced divers or non-divers. There are plenty of spots with both good diving and lovely topside scenery as well.
To conclude, choosing where to get your scuba certification or to advance your training is a very personal process, but if you answer the questions mentioned here, research the vast array of dive locations based on your own wants and needs, and do a little bit of detective work, you’ll find your ideal training spot.